On Monday, May 11, 2020, Richmond’s City Council adopted a revised Fiscal Year 2021 budget for the City of Richmond that supports projects that will contribute to a healthier James River. The adopted budget is based on revised revenue projections that were presented to City Council by the City’s Director of Budget and Strategic Planning on April 13. Like local governments across the United States, Richmond’s budget has been impacted by declining revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Richmond’s adopted Capital Improvement Program for Fiscal Years 2021 – 2025 includes $49,502,000 for Combined Sewer Overflows, $11,976,000 for Stormwater Facilities Improvements, and $7,681,500 for Wastewater Treatment. This funding will support improvements to Richmond’s combined sewer system, upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, and stormwater management projects across the City. The James River Association commends Mayor Levar Stoney and his administration for proposing this important funding as well as City Council for maintaining it in the adopted Capital Improvement Program.

While the adopted Capital Improvement Program includes almost $70 million for projects that will contribute to a healthier James River, it does not include funding for the implementation of the Richmond Riverfront Plan or the James River Park System Master Plan. The Capital Improvement Plan Mayor Stoney proposed to City Council on March 6 did not include funding for projects in either plan, so the James River Association, our Action Network, and our advocacy partners encouraged councilmembers to introduce a budget amendment to advance projects like a new riverfront park at Lehigh and the Missing Link Trail. A budget amendment was a longshot given the circumstances and ultimately the budget was adopted without an amendment being introduced. We are grateful for the efforts of our Action Network and advocacy partners, and we appreciate City Council’s consideration. We will continue our work to create awareness about the importance of both plans moving forward, as we pursue the funding necessary to advance these highly beneficial projects.

Ordinance Would Fully Fund Accessibility Projects Along the James River

Funding for two accessibility projects along the James River that were partially funded in Richmond’s FY 2020 budget, Universal Access at Huguenot Flatwater and Brown’s Island Accessibility Projects, could be fully funded by City Council in the near future. City Council will consider an ordinance that restores $180,000 to Universal Access at Huguenot Flatwater and $282,558 to Brown’s Island Accessibility Projects at its meeting on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Funding for both projects was reduced to balance the City’s FY 2020 budget during a City Council budget work session last year. The James River Association is a proponent of both projects and is encouraging City Council to support fully funding both accessibility projects.